More Spectrum, and More Non-Licensed Spectrum is Needed

Many would argue that more spectrum–often licensed spectrum, but perhaps more crucially additional non-licensed non-licensed spectrum–is needed to spur additional competition in the broadband access market (though some would argue competition in not everywhere the key problem at the moment).

As always, perspectives hinge on any number of considerations including the ways such policies affect incumbents of all sorts, including the ability to secure capital to exploit available non-licensed spectrum, and the impact of licensing costs and access on the potential range of business models.

Investment has become a more important issue for many regulators given the growing uncertainty about traditional communications business models, combined with growing competition from network-based and over the top rivals.

On the other hand, even supporters of non-licensed spectrum approaches will note that unlicensed bands are less flexible if future needs change.

But some of us might argue that the value of the unlicensed approach is that it promotes experimentation and makes possible market entry into communications by providers that do not and cannot invest gobs of capital into their businesses.

In other words, most would agree that licensed approaches favor bigger companies, while unlicensed spectrum favors smaller companies, who can get into markets without investing in spectrum assets.

Some might also argue that unlicensed spectrum approaches traditionally have not gotten the serious attention of policymakers and regulators in many parts of the world where entrpreneurs might well leap into the ISP business if they were not required to pay for spectrum and comply with licensing requirements geared to tier one communications service providers.

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